WASPS Netball’s hopes of a third successive Vitality Superleague title were brought to an end by a resilient Manchester Thunder, after a 57-52 defeat in the Grand Final at the Copper Box Arena in London.
The Black and Golds fell away in heartbreaking fashion, after a superb fightback by the Thunder in the final quarter brought the title to Manchester for the third time – marking their first title in five years.
It’s the first time that Wasps have failed to win the title, having won the league in their previous two seasons in existence.
Head coach Mel Mansfield gave her assessment of the final, and said her side fell short due to errors in key moments of the game.
“It didn’t quite happen for us today. We played well in quarters one and three but we needed to play better for longer.
“There were huge momentum shifts in the game, we started strongly but Thunder made very few errors and we found it really difficult to win ball.
“I was really pleased after half-time with the response but we made a couple of crucial errors in the final quarter which ended up being really important.
Mansfield was keen to not let the result detract from Wasps’ Vitality Superleague campaign as a whole, and vowed that the Black and Golds would be challengers again next season.
“It’s been a hugely enjoyable season and today didn’t change that, this group is fantastic and they kept battling right to the end.
“We’ve still got an incredible team and set-up at Wasps and we’ll certainly come back fighting next season.”
Wasps started strongly thanks to a key interception by Fran Williams, which allowed Katie Harris to open the scoring down the other end.
Taking a four-goal lead, both sides traded goals at regular intervals during an enthralling opening quarter – in which Wasps led by five.
The Thunder struck in the second quarter and began to mount a fightback, despite Wasps going six goals in front.
Capitalising on a number of key errors by Wasps, the Manchester side took the lead with three minutes to play, going in at half-time two goals to the good.
Although Thunder again found the net to open the third quarter, Harris really came into the game and scored a number of goals to overturn the scores once more.
Williams remained a positive influence at the back, helping to prevent Thunder from finding their range.
Rachel Dunn scored in the closing moments of the quarter, sending Wasps 15 minutes away from glory with a six-goal lead.
But a bad start to quarter four allowed Manchester to come back into it, closing the deficit before levelling the scores.
Thunder then took the lead mid-way through the quarter, and from there never looked in doubt of losing their grip of the game – eventually seeing out a five-goal lead to win the grandest prize in club netball.